Category Archives: practical helps

3 Things I Learned from Joel Osteen

osteenA wise man once said that he could learn from anyone… did you catch that?  He was wise… because he didn’t let anyone stand in his way of growth.  Not their successes or their failures. Not their preferences, their convictions, their methods, their mannerisms, their eccentricities.  We would be wise to learn from this as well… everyone can teach you something!  Some might teach you WHAT to do, HOW to live, WHY, WHEN – but others might teach you why, how, and what NOT to do!

Here are three lessons that I learned from the pastor of the world’s largest church:

I learned that a smile goes a lot further than a shout

Osteen is known for his trademark smile (it’s almost creepy how much he grins, isn’t it!?).  But the fact is – warm joy takes truth further into the soul than the cold call of duty.  Happy creatures are magnetic while negative ones polarize.  The good news is truly that — good news!  How tragic when the good news is delivered with a frown or a tone of judgment.  I realize that the gospel incorporates ‘negative’ elements of sin and God’s wrath, of blood and death… but it’s overarching message is one of hope and grace.  Share His love with a smile.

Warm joy takes truth further into the soul than the cold call of duty.

I learned that hope is a powerful thing

In his book, Osteen challenges the reader to believe in himself because of the ‘Champion’ within.  He convinces his audience that he believes in them, that they need to believe that things will not always be the same as they are right now, that they don’t have to live under the circumstances, and that they should take action to change their lives right now.  This is powerful because it offers people hope and a promise.  Personally, I believe that the source of hope needs to be more than just believing in yourself; it should be sourced in the great truth that God believes in you (although Osteen might see this as semantics / splitting hairs).  How might God use you to give hope to someone who is struggling today?  Believe in them because God does!

I learned that God can use anyone

Although Osteen was a PK (preacher’s kid), he has readily admitted that he didn’t see himself in the pulpit.  He avoided the spotlight and felt much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.  But, in spite of my many critiques of his methods and quirkiness, I believe that God is bigger than my level of tolerance or acceptance of his ministry.  I should admit that God IS using him to share the gospel and bring glory to His name.  God’s grace is bigger than anyone can imagine.  Don’t get me wrong… I’ll not soon throw the baby out with the bathwater. I would never deny hell or the sinfulness of sin on national TV (like he did on Larry King Live) – but then I’ll not answer to God for what Joel Osteen has done, will I?  I’ll try to keep my eyes on my own life and keep myself in check.  Aren’t you glad God uses us all in different people in different ways?  To think… Wow, God can even use me (and you)!

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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Give the Band a Pat on the Back

It was late in the third quarter, we’d lost our momentum, and we were down by 4 after having a good lead at the half. That’s when I heard it… the school band!  They had been playing the whole game, but that’s when I realized how important they really were.  At that moment I enjoyed them, but I also felt sorry for them.  All of us wearing blue and black had the wind knocked out of us by the other team – yet they were having to suck it up and play despite their emotions.  We were all spectators to the sad event, but they were still playing with all their hearts.  Why? It’s their job to lift the crowd, to lead our spirits, to get us back in the game – even when they didn’t feel like it.

Thank God for the Band – thank God for the Encouragers!

If you have a pastor or spiritual leader, mentor, teacher, or counselor – I want you to think of them for a minute a little like that band.  When you get the wind knocked out of you, who is there to help you and lift you up?  Who is still actively participating while you’re just a spectator? Even when they don’t feel up to it, who is it that sings into your life?  My heart goes out to those who encourage others, even when they themselves are so discouraged they have trouble believing.  I know, I’ve been there.

When the game was over, the score didn’t matter – because the band had captured my attention. I felt both gratitude and pity.  Thank God for the band – thank God for the Encouragers.  And don’t take that person – or those people who make a difference by keeping you in the game – for granted.  Take time today to give your band a pat on the back. Take a minute to jot a note or make the call to encourage your encourager!

Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.  
– Galatians 6:6

BTW – you can visit our band site here… Thanks SCHS Band!

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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Changing Our Dress Standards

After months of prayer and study, my wife and I have reached a different conclusion on an issue that is big in some circles. After reflecting on the issue, I’m amazed that it is so big. The issue is whether a Christian lady must only wear skirts or not. The issue of clothing is, of course, broader than that, but the explosive issue is skirts versus pants. (To my readers who wonder what in the world I am talking about, this issue is big in the Independent Baptist world as well as some other Christian groups. While you read my disagreeing with some in this blog post just remember that I am disagreeing with friends and not fighting enemies.)

Our position now can be stated in 2 simple points: 

1. The Bible demands modesty.

We have always believed this to be true. We believe that we have lost focus on this subject by taking ourselves away from the issue and reorienting on clothing styles. The idea is that a style of an article of clothing defines modesty more than the covering itself. For example, a skirt could be more immodest than a pair of pants by being too short, or even if longer, by carelessly sitting, etc. We maintain that the issue is not showing the private areas of the body. Despite what has been preached and taught, any honest, godly man can tell you that the issue is not along a simple divide of pants versus skirts, but along the divide of revealing versus not revealing. There are women in skirts that a godly man must quickly turn while his eyes away from while there are very attractive women in pants that he doesn’t have to turn his eyes away from. The issue isn’t pants versus skirts but modesty versus immodesty. One incites lust of men who want to do right and the other does not.

2. The Bible does not teach that pants would be wrong on a woman.

There is no Bible passage that states this idea. There are places where some wonderful people believe an inference is made and I will discuss these items later. Still, there simply is no passage that expressly teaches it.

There are many arguments given and many feel they can conclude “no pants” from principles of the Bible. I’d like to carefully discuss some of the most common ones, ones that I have thought deeply about as I tried to determine exactly what the Lord was really asking of us.

1. This violates the Biblical prohibition of cross dressing.

Deuteronomy 22:5 is always given as the key verse that would prohibit a woman from wearing pants because it would be man’s apparel. Whatever that verse means, it couldn’t really mean what it is often said to mean here. In fact, those sincere people who use the verse this way forget that they might wear the same t-shirt or socks as their spouse. Logically, you can’t pick and choose if the verse means what some say. I would think that would refer to what is obviously for one sex. I’d worry about the man who wore a pink, frilly shirt! Some would argue that pants are that distinctly male, but most would disagree with you.

biblical-dress-1Have you ever looked carefully at pictures of clothing from Bible times in any Bible dictionary or encyclopedia? Look at this picture:

Do you notice anything? Just how different is the clothing for male and female? Many cite Aaron’s “breeches”, but they were under his robe-like garment and weren’t that noticeable. At least you would have to admit that the difference between male and female dress in Bible times is not as large as the difference between pants and skirts now? Skirts are fine, but can they be demanded when the difference required is greater than that when the cited Scripture was given? The verse likely refers to battle apparel, but in any event, it can’t be pushed farther than the context allows.

2. Pants are a giving in to modern culture.

It is true that 70 years ago all women wore skirts only. It is also true that our culture changed. Perhaps it would be fair to say that those who first changed were making a statement that ladies today are not necessarily making. It was not culturally acceptable then. What I am afraid we fail to see is that cultureis the last line of consideration for the Christian after the issue of covering our nakedness is addressed. For example, walk up and tell some burly Scottish guy in his kilt that he looks feminine or girly and as you pick yourself back up off the ground, you will probably realize he was all man and a cultural issue was involved.

Why won’t you wear the outfit of the people in the above picture from Bible times to church, or even Wal-mart?  Because you know that people would roll their eyes at you. In other words, it isn’t socially acceptable. And if some measure of changing with culture within the confines of modesty is wrong, how are the church dresses of today acceptable? They don’t look like those worn in the 1800s. Dresses went to the floor then and the sight of even the ankle was a scandal. (My Alicia says we are a long way from Adam and Eve’s furs too). Alicia and I were talking with some good friends of ours one day and wondered how the 1950s became the standard for all time. That more or less is the look of most who hold the stricter position today. It is an attractive look, but can it honestly be said to be the God-given standard for today? I don’t feel there is any way I could honestly hold that position.

It is true that there are things acceptable in our culture today that are unacceptable to the Christian. But we dodge that error by our first line of defense: modesty. Modesty means I particularly cover the private or sexual parts of my body so as not to enflame others with lust. It means drawing the wrong kind of attention. To put it simply, there are 2 factors that determine what we wear: 1) modesty, and 2) culture.

3. To start wearing pants is a move to the left and therefore wrong.

There is no Scripture on it being a sin to move to the left. Actually, the only thing the Bible teaches is that you adjust to the Biblical position no matter if you need to go right or left to do it. That really is an argument for appearances. What we are all called to do is figure out what the Lord is saying to the best of our ability and adjust accordingly.

4. Ladies should not wear pants in order to take the highest road.

It is an assumption to say it is the highest road. Is it a higher road to wear a button-up shirt over a polo shirt? Is it a higher road to have a land line instead of a cell phone? How do you know that is true? In any event, I so support anyone who feels they need to not wear pants for the Lord. But in fairness, let’s support those who do not feel that way equally. If there are no clear Biblical guidelines then it must be along the lines of Romans 14:6 (“He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.”)

A Plea For Consistency

Is pants- versus- skirts the big issue in the Biblical idea of modesty? Do we do the issue justice to reduce it to one area? Men, do you turn your head from every woman in pants? Or just from those who are flaunting their bodies? That really proves the point, doesn’t it?

Are pants worldly and a leaving of “the old paths”? Why do we pick this one modern development? Didn’t some think the same thing at other times about automobiles, or makeup, or jewelry, or cell phones, or electricity? Can’t you imagine some Christian years ago lamenting the shameful worldliness of bringing indoor plumbing into your home? Why would someone else get the privilege of picking and choosing such things for me?

Do you really believe that pants are a form of homosexual cross-dressing? Really? For every woman you know who wears pants? Are there not some women you admire as Christians who wear pants?  Does, then, a lesbian putting on a skirt make her straight? Doesn’t this show how far adrift we are in our thinking? Cross-dressing? Where’s the outrage for issues the Bible takes care to often discuss on the level of what we see here? Is pride or anger a lesser issue than pants when you read the entire Bible? Then why are these issues not getting at least equal publicity with the pants issue?

Is the entire issue of avoiding lust on women’s shoulders? (My Alicia feels strongly here). Does the man, who is truly a visual creature, not have some of the responsibility? If a lady wears something she shouldn’t, is he off the hook for wherever his mind goes? Let’s get real—does every pair of pants give men problems? If it does, could maybe he have a problem? Can a man not lust after a woman in a skirt? Even if a woman is immodestly dressed, is a man still not 100% responsible before God to keep his thoughts pure? On the other hand, does this not mean that there could be something called modest pants?

Finally, isn’t it true that there is no “thou shalt not wear pants” command? Isn’t it true that the Scriptures used are not as clear as some say? Isn’t it true that many of the arguments used are not Biblical, but are philosophical at best? Isn’t it true that where the Bible doesn’t clearly speak it is each Christian’s responsibility to seek the Lord? Do we, then, have a right to be upset if a brother or sister in Christ doesn’t arrive at our same conclusion?

Speaking for me and my family, these things settle it for us.

Read More: “Why Am I Making A Point To Discuss This Hot Issue” & “What This Means For The Reagan Family”

Article by Jimmy Reagan

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If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying…Really?

You’ve heard it a hundred times – if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And if this statement ever was true, it is simply no longer reality. Life IS about growth, but it’s not ALL about growth.

This post is part of the series – What Ever Happened to Personal Responsibility?
Would You Return to Your Organization?
If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying…Really?
Leaders are the Most Creative People on the Planet
Great Leaders Serve
Is Fear Taking Over?

I’m passionate about growth. I’ve written much about planningvision, and growth. For much of my life, anything short of growth I considered failure…until few weeks ago.

In a recent post, Chris Patton included a simple phrase that caught my attention – life is not all about prosperity.

Just a few hours before reading the post my wife and I had engaged in an emotional discussion about her moving forward with some decisions she needed to make. (I know what you’re thinking – but it was in a restaurant, so it wasn’t too lively.)

Sarah is steady, supportive, consistent. I am creative, innovative, impulsive. So I questioned whether Sarah was putting off some decisions because she was waiting for circumstances to improve. Or because she was hoping for more certainty.

After reading Chris’ post, I found myself questioning MY perspective – is life all about growth?

Here are three things I noted about growth from this experience –

1. Growth comes in many shapes and sizes

Reflecting on my conversation with Sarah, I realized that she IS experiencing growth. Among other areas, she is growing in patience – with her circumstances and with me.

Growth is not always bigger. It’s not always quantitative – measured the way you or I think it should be measured.

Here’s a great question for determining whether or not you are experiencing growth – Are my current situation and my resulting behaviors adding value to my life and work or to the life and work of others?

2. You can grow through pain

From a long-term perspective, maybe the old adage is true – If you’re not growing, you’re dying. Let’s face it – in a world of constant and rapid change, maintaining the status quo is quite simply passive regression.

But, on the surface, constant growth just doesn’t seem possible. Life is about dormancy, setbacks, and pain. It’s about disease, loss, and grief. It’s about uncertainty and unknowns – challenging projects at work, strained relations at home, in between jobs, waiting for word from the doctor, mounting medical bills.

And while it seems that life is about more than growth – life’s incredibly uncomfortable moments are, in reality, opportunities for explosive personal growth.

3. You don’t have to prolong the pause

It’s true – life is full of difficult moments. But it’s also filled with hope. With vision. With dreams. With legacy.

Life isn’t all about prosperity, but it can be about growth. If you are going to grow it will have to be on purpose. You must choose.

So whatever you’re going through, deal with it intentionally. Process it. Get help. Don’t prolong the pain any more than is absolutely necessary.

Decide right now – What one step can I take today toward closing this chapter in my life and opening a new chapter?

Life is a series of new beginnings – and today is the beginning of the rest of your life. Make it a great one!

So, is it true – am I dying if I’m not growing? What have you learned about growth? Leave a comment – let us know what you think.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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I Don’t Know & I Don’t Care!

Wouldn’t you agree that the two biggest problems in our churches are IGNORANCE and APATHY?  It seems like we’ve crossed a threshold of comfort-level Christianity today.  The Scriptures warn us that the days will come when “sound doctrine” and “godliness” will seem to be things of the past (2 Tim. 3:5, 4:3).

Ignorance is epidemic.  Though many can quote Bible verses and go on and on about Bible stories, those same people have no real idea how Biblical principles impact their daily lives.  They don’t see the connection between their relationship with God and their marriage, between God’s wisdom and their parenting.  They don’t understand how the Bible relates to them being a good employee, a good citizen, or even a good church member.  Culture says: Church & the Bible are ineffective relics of a by-gone era and must give way to new ideas.  As a result, in order to show tolerance, to not offend, and to be politically-correct, pastors and churches have so watered-down the message that it’s no longer bright- or salty-enough to make a difference (Matt. 5:13-14).  All expectations should be thrown out when assuming an American’s familiarity with the core message of the gospel.

Apathy is the tragic norm.  I know you’ve heard this before – but churches are full of members with ‘big ears’ and ‘big rears.’  The average Christian’s spiritual life consists of coming to church, sitting on a pew, and listening to a sermon once a week.  While many sermons challenge a person’s gluteus maximus (by sitting through long sermons) and the tympanic membrane (by enduring loud or obnoxious voices), far too-few challenge a person’s volition (cognitive, decision-making skills) or their mind.  Too many pastors educate and never inspire.  The church doesn’t seem to care about what’s happening around them – calloused to the condition of the world.  Politics, the economy, natural disasters, wars… I’m afraid there are a lot of people who need to wake up to what’s really going on!

1. Be intentional about your growth.  Purpose to not remain stagnate.  The measure of this is NOT your amount of service at church or even necessarily your frequency to attend church meetings.  Although this is a tough one to measure, try to!  Ask yourself:  Do I spend more time with God than I used to?  Do I trust Him more?  Am I more/less patient with others than before?  Do I demonstrate more/less grace?

2. Determine to remain passionate about your faith.  Be sympathetic and don’t let the emotionless disregard for others dull your sensitivity for life.  There is so much to feel (compassion) – and so much to do (in helping others).  Locate and destroy any of pockets of apathy in your life.  Take this personally: it’s time we cared about what’s at stake!  Ask yourself: Am I numb to the reality of Hell?  Do I care about those around me enough to take action?  What would it feel like to love like Jesus loves?

I’m curious what you think… Is ignorance or apathy more rampant [POLL]?  Which is worst [COMMENTS]?  How should preachers respond?

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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…Because It’s Not Just a Lesson

I recently accepted the opportunity to teach the adult Sunday School class at Fishers Baptist Church, and today was my first class as the teacher. I was grateful to be asked!

Sunday School presents unique opportunities for a more interactive style of communication, and for building community, that can sometimes go underutilized. I thought I’d share with you some of the ways I’m being intentional with this opportunity:

  • Our physical environment is the main worship space, where the seating is divided into four sections in a semi-circle shape. I began our time by asking everyone to come together into the middle two sections, a request they complied with mostly willingly. 🙂 Physical proximity changes the dynamic of any environment, and awareness of physical presence sometimes is a first step toward engaging at other levels.
  • As part of my other roles at the church, I generally wear a suit or sportcoat and slacks, with ties and, if I say so myself, some pretty sweet pocket squares. But for this environment, I wanted to project a less formal presence, and send a message of willingness to get to work. So I took off the sportcoat and rolled up my sleeves.
Ip-man-rolled-up-sleeves-donnie-yen

I struck this pose after I rolled up my sleeves. That wasn’t weird, was it?

  • I used a lectern on the main floor of the worship space, and did not use the pulpit/platform. It puts me closer to the group, and also sends the message that this time/setting is different from the worship service, and has different purposes.
  • I explained to the class that I had three things I wanted to accomplish in this setting: to facilitate building relationships, work together on the rhythms that allow our relationship with God to grow and deepen, and study the Scriptures together (I’m using James Dyet‘s study of Colossians as a base).
  • I encouraged the class that, though it would be hard sometimes, being honest and open would help us to build relationships God could use to meet needs. I asked if anyone in the class had something that was weighing on their mind going into this week, and a young mother mentioned that she had finals coming up. I asked her how we could pray for her, and she wasn’t sure, so I asked if anyone else in the class had taken finals before, and others offered specific ways in which they would be praying for her. Then another lady in the class volunteered to watch her young son so she could better prepare. It was a pretty cool moment, and, I hope, a validation of it being worthwhile to push through the discomfort to be more open about our needs with each other.

In whatever role you’ve been given, in whatever sphere of life you’re operating (work? family? church? spirituality?), you have the chance to be more intentional about doing the things, sometimes large but mostly small, that set you up to be successful in your endeavor. These are some of mine: what are yours?

Article by Mike Rowell

@redhedrev

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Joy Story

If you were to ask me to stop and recall one of my happiest times as a child, I would have to bring up the Toy Story era. Now before you laugh, whenToy Story came out it was well ahead of its time, not because it was the first successful computer generated movie, but because it solidified what all little kids were thinking: MY TOYS CAN TALK!

As an adult, life is little more complicated now isn’t it? It almost seems that the older you get, the more grumpy and sour you become. Why? Because simply put, life can suck the JOY right out of you. Remember when you actually enjoyed your job? How long has it been since you enjoyed your marriage? Being pointed, remember when you ENJOYED coming to church and seeing everyone?

We are foolish to think that God planned for your life to just putter along in misery. Thankfully, through Paul writing to the Philippians, we can truly find our JOY STORY and get back to loving life again!

Paul, under Holy Ghost inspiration, is careful to send a strong message to this first European congregation in Philippi. Depending on how you look at it, 16 times some derivative of JOY is pumped into this congregation. One of those words, REJOICE, is the ACTION of the emotion of joy. Throughout the book of Philippians, Paul gives us 5 FACTS to help us find our JOY STORY! (This post was from a message I preached recently, if you would like to watch it, click HERE)

What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. (Philippians 1:18)

1. Take JOY in the FACT the Gospel Is Preached

A few verses earlier, Paul was saying that the Gospel was being preached FOR THE WRONG REASON (envy, strife, etc.) and because of the POWER that it had he still rejoiced in that fact! No doubt there is coming day that the glorious Gospel WILL NOT be able to be preached; let us be busy and find joy in the fact that it still can.

Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. (Philippians 2:16)

2. Take JOY in The FACT that Your “Race” is Not in Vain

If there is anything that makes a Christ follower want to bail out on “Christianity” it is the question of, “IS IT WORTH IT”. We sacrifice, we struggle, we seemingly tread water … but it IS for a purpose. The situations we face are all specifically for our benefit, but the payoff (at times) takes FOREVER to be manifested. Paul goes so far as to say, “I’m content and have JOY in the fact that my suffering will make sense when I see Jesus!”

I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. (Philippians 2:28)

3. Take JOY in the FACT that Your “Race” is Not Run Alone

As was mentioned earlier, the reasoning behind some of our circumstances may not be understood until we reach Heaven. With that being the case, God has given us “co-laborers” that are in the fight as well. We should REJOICE, Paul tells us, simply because we do not have to carry our burdens alone.

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord…  (Philippians 3:1)

4. Take JOY in the FACT of Who God IS

If there was no other reason to have joy, we should rejoice simply in who God is! He is your creator, sustainer, deliverer, redeemer, and FRIEND! Through Christ’s sacrifice your are ACCEPTED before God; take joy in that fact — Why wouldn’t you?

In Philippians 4:1, Paul starts off by saying, “Therefore” — (or in other words, because of everything that was just said) — we should take steps to insure that the fifth fact in intact:

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:2-4)

5. Take JOY in the FACT of Strength in a UNIFIED Body

We need to understand that quarrels and strife have no place in the Body of Christ. There is nothing that steals joy and destroys churches more than disunity. When everyone is on the same page, a unified assembly of Christ followers can truly change the world!

 

Article by Kevin Crozier

@kevcrozier

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My Name Is…

Everyone has TWO names: Who YOU think you are and who OTHERS say you are …

It has always been said that how you are PERCEIVED is how you are eventually RECEIVED. What does that mean you ask? Simply put, if someone thinks you are a mean person, they will treat you like a mean person. If someone thinks you to be positive and fun, more than likely you will have quite a few more friends than someone who isn’t.

So often we dig ourselves into man-made holes and when we fall into them we blame everyone but ourselves. I love what Psalm 7:15 says:

He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.

Honestly, we as Christians do some pretty stupid things sometimes. The problem that we fail to comprehend is that every action we perform places a mark upon us for EVERYONE to see. People today, especially teenagers, mope around wondering why people view them in the light that they do — Poor choices will result in unfavorable consequences. On the other hand, do right and live right, and a POSITIVE mark is placed on your forehead (figuratively speaking of course) for everyone to see! The best part of all this? YOU get to choose how people PERCEIVE you! Look at this passage from Proverbs 22:

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. – Proverbs 22:1

What an opportunity! We get to pick how and what we are going to be known as. Think right now of someone you think that is a liar … Now think of someone who you think is honest. Why did you pick the people you picked? It is because they gave you a reason! They picked their “name” and allowed you to perceive them that way.

Everyone has seen those, “Hello, my name is…” stickers right? Let’s imagine that you took a blank one and stuck it on your forehead and gave 10 people who you know fairly well a marker. Their job was to write how they perceived you on your sticker … What do you think it would say when they finished and you pulled it off? The choice is yours ….

TAKE AWAYS

  • Our actions formulate the opinions that others have towards us
  • Once someone has made their mind up, it’s hard to change it
  • YOU ultimately get to choose how you are known and how you will be remembered

 

Article by Kevin Crozier

@kevcrozier

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Prioritizing Important Relationships

Think about this for a moment – All relationships are not important. If all relationships are important, no relationship will be important.
Developing and maintaining key relationships is a critical discipline if we are going to genuinely care for people, live out vision, and help others achieve their full potential.

Relationship development (especially with those closest to us) is not something you or I can simply check off of the to-do list. And it’s certainly not an exercise in convenience. Effective leaders genuinely value key relationships and make them top priority.

All about relationship

Sarah and I have scheduled a standing lunch date every Friday. Our lunch dates have become a time for us to push the pause button on the rest of the world and catch up with each other.

Last week we decided to eat a quick lunch and run a couple of errands together. From my perspective, this plan would require an abbreviated lunch to allow time for our errands.  So we selected a restaurant and I asked her if she’d like for me to call ahead with our order so it would be ready when we arrived. Good plan, huh?

If you said yes, Sarah didn’t agree with us.

She responded, If you’re going to call ahead we might as well go through a drive-thru.

Since I sincerely had her in mind when I suggested streamlining the process, I asked her why it mattered if I called ahead.  She reminded me that our Friday lunch dates are less about eating – and all about relationship. (So we went through the Chick-fil-A drive-thru – just kidding.)

Be all there

It took me several seconds to slow my thought process – and enter the moment with her. She is important to me – my most treasured relationship in the world. So why would I want to rush this one afternoon which we set aside to enjoy our time together?

Important relationships will not grow when we’re in a hurry. In fact, these relationships will become strained and fall apart if we approach them without intention. There are no shortcuts in relationships. So leave the phone in the car. Forget about emailFacebook, andTwitter. It’ll be there when you get back.

Listen. Laugh. Love. Wherever you are, be all there. – Jim Elliot

 Worth it

We chose a table out on the porch of one of our favorite cafes in Clemson. Sitting in the cool breeze, we laughed about our differing perspectives. While we talked, I scribbled down these thoughts on the back of my receipt. (I know, I was supposed to be in the moment with Sarah.)

It didn’t really matter that our order took extraordinarily long to make it to the table. Or that this restaurant cost a few more dollars than drive-thru alternative – it was worth it! Because I value her – and I value our relationship.

Prioritizing key relationships will cost you. Relationships require time when it’s inconvenient. They require more money when there’s not much. They keep you awake when you’re exhausted. And, they’re worth it!

Because those few relationships that you value most – whether family, friends, or colleagues – will become those which bring the greatest fulfillment in life.

So create more perfect moments with those who are most important – when time stands still and, at that moment, they realize that they are the most important person in the world.

How do you give make sure that you are giving your full attention to key relationships?

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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REST: The Ultimate Surge Protector

Before getting into full time Christian ministry, I worked part time at an electronics store selling computers, TVs, and other nifty gadgets. I was “programmed” to always recommend and stress the importance of surge protectors to go along with the customer’s purchase. Being the good boy I am, howbeit reluctantly, I gave the speech and sent many people home with a device that I was convinced was a total WASTE! I maintained that mindset for the next couple years until the unthinkable happened — POWER SURGE!

I will never forget the heart sinking feeling when one of the men on our staff called me and said he couldn’t get the computers and monitors working at church — I was hoping that he was just a moron and didn’t know how to turn them on, but boy was I in for a treat when I made it to the office! I learned that some construction had gone on at the church that day and the workers had manually shut off all the power. When they flipped it back on, a “voltage spike” shot right through the hearts of our lovely machines killing them all! In a sense, our beautiful Apple computers were given the electric chair …

Moving away from the electrical engineering field and into some Spiritual truth, loads and loads of people are wiped out in emotional and mental “voltage spikes” of their own. We ALL live extremely stressful, busy, and confusing lives. When the “storm” is just right and the stresses and obstacles of family, work, church, and other activities are all pulling at you in opposite directions — YOU BREAK!

Just like there are SURGE PROTECTORS for common electronics and appliances, God designed a unique surge protector for His people as well: REST

 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. – Genesis 2:2

Did you know that 29% of American will experience some form of a mental breakdown this year? That is astonishing! The leading cause every time is from ANXIETY and FATIGUE. You know what prescription God prescribed to us? You got it — REST! Our Savior, Jesus, even took a vacation from time to time:

 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself ALONE. – John 6:15

There is nothing spiritual in “running on fumes”. When you do that in a car, you burn up the fuel line and damage your car! There is no way around it — to save yourself from completely breaking and being rendered ineffective for the future, you must learn to REST. I will be the first to admit, learning to STOP, BREATHE, and REGROUP is a very difficult thing for me. Believe it or not, your world will not melt away if you take a few days to relax and spend time with God and family. In fact, you may be surprised at how much more efficiently you run when you get back!

Article by Kevin Crozier

@kevcrozier

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